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USDA Partners with Three Cooperatives to Improve Electric Infrastructure for Rural Minnesotans

Nikki Gillespie
St. Paul
Release Date

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Minnesota Brad Finstad today announced USDA is investing over $26 million to three electric cooperatives to improve rural electric infrastructure throughout the state. 

“Investing in modern electric infrastructure is vital to Minnesota’s rural communities as these improvements pave the way for economic opportunity and enhance the quality of life for residents,” said Finstad.  “Under the leadership of Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development LaVoy, Agriculture Secretary Perdue, and President Trump, USDA is committed to modernize infrastructure throughout rural America with investments like this.”

The projects announced today are being funded through USDA’s Electric Loan Program. Below are summaries of USDA’s investments benefitting rural Minnesotans:

  • North Star Electric Cooperative will use a $11,057,000 loan to build and improve 95 miles of line and add 357 customers. The loan includes more than $2 million for smart grid technologies. North Star serves an average of 6,500 customers through 1,444 miles of energized line in Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Roseau and St. Louis counties.

  • An $8,072,000 loan will assist H-D Electric Cooperative in connecting 146 customers and consumers and build and improve 140 miles of distribution line. The loan includes more than $474,000 in smart grid applications to enhance system resilience and reliability. H-D Electric, headquartered in Clear Lake, S.D., provides electric service to approximately 3,600 consumers over 1,572 miles of line in South Dakota and Minnesota.

  • Redwood Electric Cooperative will use a $7,000,000 loan to build and improve 57 miles of distribution line and add 72 customers. The loan includes $1,831,000 for smart grid technologies. Redwood Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Clements, Minn., serves more than 4,400 residential and commercial consumers in three counties in Minnesota. 

Finstad’s announcement is in coordination with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s recent announcement that the USDA is investing $1.4 billion in projects to build and improve rural electric infrastructure in 21 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin.  These projects will help build and improve 6,886 miles of line to strengthen reliability in rural areas. The loans include $255.8 million for investments in smart grid infrastructure that uses digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.  USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/mn.